OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - A jolly Santa greeting you in a cozy chair, it's a sight that's almost a given during the Christmas season. So Ashley Helm was surprised when her 4-year-old asked to see Santa, and she found out it'd cost her $35 at Oak Park Mall.
"I was just going to take her down to see him and sit on his lap. No pictures or anything like that," Helm said.
That's because Santa's workshop is a little different at Oak Park Mall this year. It's a whole Santa Dream Land experience, created by Dreamworks. There's a 4-D sleigh ride, some games, and a private visit with Santa Claus.
"It's a full journey to the North Pole. It's an immersive experience; it's more of an attraction," said Kasey Vena, a representative for Oak Park Mall.
Vena says the idea is for families to have a unique, memorable visit to the North Pole.
"It is a different experience, and that's what we wanted. We wanted to bring something new and fun to Kansas City," said Vena.
The experience costs anywhere from $35 to $75 depending on the package you want. Helm says it's just too much for many metro families.
“I would be more than willing to pay $35 for the exhibit, I think Santa needs to be completely separate from the exhibit so that way kids who can not afford, whose parents can't afford it, they still have the opportunity to see him," said Helm.
Vena brought up the point that there are lots of other opportunities throughout the city to meet Santa for free, this is just the option Oak Park thinks will give its patrons the best experience this year. This same kind of North Pole experience is in a New Jersey Mall, after outrage from customers over the $35 fee, the mall made visiting Santa free.